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Chesapeake Bay News: Places

Jun
13
2016

‘Sneaker index’ of 31 inches measured at Bernie Fowler Wade-In

Former Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler saw his sneakers through 31 inches of water at the 29th annual Patuxent River Wade-In on June 12. High winds and rough waters meant this year’s “sneaker index”—the deepest point at which Fowler can still see his shoes as he wades into the water—measured far lower than 2015’s 44.5 inches.

Bernie Fowler, a former Maryland state senator and long-time advocate for a healthy Patuxent River, leads last year's 28th annual Patuxent River Wade-In on June 14, 2015.

Since 1988, the now 92-year-old Fowler—clad in his signature white sneakers—has held the wade-in on the second Sunday in June, to bring attention to the polluted waters of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay. The event moved to Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in 2010 after decades on Broomes Island.

In his youth, Fowler could wade into the Patuxent up to his chest and still see fish, shellfish and underwater grasses. But nutrient and sediment pollution in the river have led to degraded water clarity and fueled algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching the river bottom. The 1960s sneaker index of 57 inches now serves as the benchmark for a restored Patuxent River.



Jun
11
2016

Humans of the Chesapeake: Earle Peterson

Earle Peterson stands on a dock facing Cranberry Bog, a pristine 70-acre wetland, at Greenwoods Conservancy in Otsego County, N.Y., on May 23, 2015.

Earle Peterson of Cooperstown, New York, owns the nearly 1,200 acres of land that make up The Greenwoods Conservancy. Peterson works with the Otsego Land Trust to permanently preserve the land, ensuring that it will serve as an educational, aesthetic and environmental resource for the surrounding community for years to come.

With Peterson behind the wheel of his old pickup truck, he took our photographer on a tour of Greenwoods on a spring day last year. Passing a roadside pond, he observed a couple of Canada geese.

“These aren’t corporate geese—these are wild ones,” Peterson said. “Now these same geese could very well winter in Chesapeake—and follow the river from beginning to end.”

As the truck bounced over dirt and gravel roads, the conversation shifted to the Susquehanna River, and Peterson was succinct in his thoughts, as someone who lives much closer to its headwaters in Cooperstown than its mouth in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

“It isn’t just that wide expanse down there,” Peterson said.

Learn more about Peterson and The Greenwoods Conservancy.

Throughout Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week, we'll be sharing the stories of people who live, work and play in the Chesapeake region. Join the conversation on social media: #HumansOfTheChesapeake

Image by Will Parson



Jun
10
2016

Assessment offers look at resiliency of Maryland’s shorelines

A new Coastal Resiliency Assessment from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy of Maryland & D.C. will help state and local decision-makers focus conservation and restoration activities on coastal communities that are most at risk of flooding, erosion, sea level rise and other hazards.

More than 7,000 miles of shoreline make up Maryland’s coast—which borders both the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean—and these areas are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, severe storms and erosion. The Coastal Resiliency Assessment worked to identify regions that are most at risk, existing natural lands that can provide protection and key places to target conservation and restoration efforts. According to the study, habitats like forests and wetlands currently protect 22 percent of the state’s coastal areas and their communities.

The assessment has been incorporated into the Maryland Coastal Atlas—an interactive hub of ocean, estuary and shoreline spatial data—so planners can identify high-priority areas for projects. Data found in the assessment includes an index of high-, moderate- and low-hazard shorelines; places where habitat plays a role in risk reduction; communities at risk of flooding; areas where existing marshes could provide coastal protection; and priority shorelines for conservation and restoration projects.

Learn more.



Jun
10
2016

Photo of the Week: An early bird catches a quick bite

An American robin pulls a worm from the grass at Jeff Robertson Park in Norfolk, Virginia. Although often considered harbingers of spring, most robins actually stay in their breeding range year-long. But because they spend the winter roosting in trees instead of hopping across the lawn, you’re less likely to see them. Robins hunt for one of their favorite foods, earthworms, by cocking their head to the side so they can see—contrary to popular belief, they don’t actually hear the worms. These birds can often be seen after a rainstorm, feasting on the worms that rise to the surface.

Due to their susceptibility to pesticide poisoning, robins can be an indicator of pollution in the environment. Chemicals like DDT, which was banned in the U.S. in 1972, can persist in the soil for decades, where earthworms can absorb them and pass them to feeding robins. In one Michigan town, sick and dying robins were one of many indicators that DDT was still contaminating the environment. By studying the health of robins and other wildlife, experts can continue to monitor how ecosystems recover from DDT and other harmful chemicals.

Learn about how chemical contaminants affect the health of the Bay and its rivers and streams.

 

Image by Will Parson

Stephanie Smith's avatar
About Stephanie Smith - Stephanie is the Web Content Manager at the Chesapeake Bay Program. A native of the Midwest, she received her Bachelor’s in Professional Writing from Purdue University and Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan. Stephanie’s lifelong love of nature motivates her to explore solutions to environmental problems and teach others what they can do to help.



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